7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The Valley Commandoes need to beat London Wasps by 16 points at Sardis Road on Friday night to advance to the final of the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday, 25 May, and Howells knows it will take a huge improvement in all facets of the game.
"It's obviously a difficult task, but we're at Sardis Road and we never give in there," he said. "The final is within reach if we play to our potential.
"We were certainly second-best in the first half of the first leg of the semi-final, but I didn't think we were 15 points worse than them overall.
"That last try of theirs was the killer. But if you don't play to your potential, that's what happens.
I thought we were naive in the contact area and we need to work on our ball retention. We have to keep the ball in contact and improve our defence. We have to stop them on the gain-line - they won't like that.
"However, I thought we broke them readily and got behind them very easily and I'm sure we can do better next time. Our set-piece was good but we can improve in all areas. The pleasing thing is that we're at home for the rematch and we owe the supporters a performance, they were great up at Wasps."
Howells is expecting Wasps to include England fullback Josh Lewsey in their starting line-up on Friday night.
"We've planned for Lewsey playing - he's simply another fine player," he said. "They've got a whole squad of them. He's very quick and elusive. Rob Howley was very good and he dictated the game, given an armchair ride by his pack."
Pontypridd's task would have been seven points easier if it hadn't been for a controversial first half penalty try when Wasps scrum half Howley was taken out during a race for the ball.
"At the time, I thought it was a perfectly good decision, but after watching the video, Brett Davey had it covered so there is some doubt over it," Howells said.
"I was more upset by the fact Jon Bryant had cut through their backline, but, one missed pass later, they were scoring down the other end."
Another incident that angered Pontypridd was Wasps hooker Trevor Leota punching No 8 Michael Owen, but Howells did not cite the burly Samoan.
"It looked bad initially, but, after looking at it on the video, it wasn't malicious. It was just reactionary. I wish the touch judges had picked up Leota's off-side play!"
Howells paid tribute to Pontypridd fitness coach Steve Richards: "The fitness levels of our guys is superb - Steve deserves a huge slap on the back.
"I think we've had a pretty successful season overall. It was never about trophies this season - it was about us becoming consistent.
"Our bad luck with injuries and having so many players on international duty meant we haven't been consistent enough, but I don't think we should measure things in terms of trophies.
"For a start, we've supplied more players to the national squad than ever before - and that's something the club is very proud about."